January 27, 1968
On January 27, 1968, a French submarine called the Minerve, was engaged in an exercise with a military aircraft. There were 52 crew members on board. When the military lost communication with the sub, the military began preparing a search. They were determined to bring the crew members home who were working on the sub when it disappeared.
Search and Rescue
The military didn’t spare any expense when it came to finding the Minerve. In the days that followed the sub’s disappearance, the military gathered 20 boats, helicopters, and various other aircrrafts. Jacques Cousteau even got involved. The famous oceanographer sent a diving vessel down into the water to search for the sub. Unfortunately, nothing was found. According to Rear Admiral Dominique Salles, they didn’t have the technical capabilities to perform a thorough search at such great depths. Admiral Salles is the president of an organization that represents submarine crews.
The families of those aboard the Minerve were devastated and looking for answers. Further searches were conducted from 1968 to 1970. When they found nothing, the crew members’ families were still left with no answers. According to Admiral Salles, the loss of the sub and all 52 crew members shocked the French Navy. The Minerve was one of the most sophisticated subs in the French fleet, and the families of the crew members and the marine officers themselves were all traumatized after the loss.
After the sub disappeared and for years after, the families of the crew members wanted answers. They were sure that their loved ones were gone, but they weren’t sure where they were. Herve Fauve was just a child when he got word that his father, who was one of the crew members, was lost at sea. He says that he remembers two Navy officers sitting in his living room, telling his mother that Lt. Andre Fauve was commanding the Minerve when it was lost. He says that he remembers his mother looking at him with pain in her eyes and said, “Your Daddy is dead. His submarine has sunk.” Herve says that the news hit him hard, and for years, he wondered what happened to his father.
The 50th Anniversary
In January 2018, the families of the lost crew members gathered in Toulon to remember their loved ones on the 50th anniversary of the sinking. Admiral Salles participated in the commemoration and said that the ceremony brought the memories of the sailors back to life. Their families weren’t lost anymore, but they still wanted answers. During the celebration, the families urged the French government to conduct new searches. They knew that their loved ones were long gone, but they still wanted to know where their final resting place was located. They wanted to know where the submarine landed when it sank.
Fortunately, today, the government has access to better technology, and we are able to search much greater depths than were 50-years ago. A new preliminary search was conducted in February 2018 and resumed in July 2019. The Seabed Constructor joined in on the search, and they used autonomous underwater vehicles to search for the Minerve. Finally, there were results.
Experts Uncovered The Ghostly Wreck Of A French Submarine 51 Years After It Mysteriously Vanished. The wreckage was found by the Norwegian-flagged research vessel, Seabed Constructor. It was discovered 28-miles from the southern French port city of Toulon. It was sitting on the seafloor, over 7,800-feet below the surface of the water. This was the same vessel that found a San Juan submarine that had gone missing in 2017, off the coast of Argentina. There were 44 sailors on board that vessel. Fortunately, the families of the crew didn’t have to wait 51 years for answers the way that the crew of the Minerve did.
The Minerve was found in three parts, spread across 330-yards. According to Stanislas Gentian, a spokesman for the Mediterranean’s Maritime Prefecture in Toulon, the first four letters of the sub’s name, MINE were visible in the central part of the wreckage. This is how the search team was able to identify the wreck.
According to Mr. Gentien, the wreckage is not going to be brought up to the surface, and there will be no further investigation. As much as they would like to know how the sub sank, experts believe that what is left of the sub won’t give them any answers. They are just happy that they are finally able to provide the crew members’ families some closure.
A Special Ceremony
Now that the French government knows the location of the ill-fated sub, they are planning to have a ceremony for the lost crew members. It is going to take place in the early fall and will be held at sea, right over where the wreckage was found.